LARY Cars at Georgia Street: Stop everything and run for cover!
By Ralph Cantos
This remarkable photo was taken at dusk on February 25, 1942. It was one of the first air raid tests in the Los Angeles area. Just two days before, the Richfield Ellwood oil storage facility near Santa Barbra was shelled by a Japanese submarine. While no one was killed, and the damage to the facility was minimal, the provocative act by Japan put the entire West Coast on edge.
In this photo, the evening rush hour “pull ins” were just arriving at Division 4 when the air raid sirens went off, scaring the hell out just about everyone in LA. Motormen, conductors and yard attendants stopped what they were doing and ran for cover whereever they could find it.
Well, as it turned out, Los Angeles and the West Coast was never in any real danger. But as a result, many precautions were taken during World War II. Many PE cars had hoods installed over their headlights, and all the PE cars that had just gone through the 1939-40 modernization program had their attractive silver roof painted a more sedate dark gray as a precaution to avoid being detected and bombed from the air.
Another concession given to the PE was that Eclipse Fenders could be removed from the bigger PE interurbans with pilots, such as the 950s, 10s, 11s and 12s. The War Department figured that if you were to be clobbered by a San Berdoo 12, rolling at 60mph, an Eclipse Fender wouldn’t do shit to save your ass.
LARY cars had to keep their fenders until LATL remodeled all active cars with the less attractive Life Guards around 1947-48.
And so, America made it through World War II without any serious problems related to the war. The LARY and PE enjoyed record ridership all during the conflict. When peace returned to Los Angeles, it was the beginning of the end for rail service on the PE, LARY/LATL/LAMTA.
Ralph Cantos Collection